Meet Leilani M. Brown, CMO, Starr Companies

Sometimes it’s the things you don’t do that make the biggest impact on your life. Leilani M. Brown always thought she wanted to be an attorney—but it was marketing that became her true calling. As the marketing chief at Starr Companies, a global insurance organization that provides risk management solutions, MetLife alum Brown developed Starr’s first-ever comprehensive brand strategy and advertising campaign, and fully revamped its PR strategy.

Marketing strategy: Have simple, clear goals for your brand and your company. Much of the time we take it for granted that everyone understands what those are, but you need to actively share them with your partners, your agency, your team, and your colleagues. Say them out loud over and over again.

Winning ways: The pressure in marketing is to always prove the value of your activities, ROI, etc. We were actually able to track and measure a significant increase in our brand awareness over the past two years among our target audience.

Defining moment: I didn’t get accepted to a single law school out of college—and that was a good thing for me. I ended up taking a job with Chubb and Sons as a production underwriter in New York and from there I carved out a pretty respectable career track in the insurance industry and in marketing. But back then I felt l was facing a challenge: I had a solid goal and I didn’t make it. To have that kind of disappointment early on and then to bounce back, that’s what’s most important.

Trend watching: This year the marketing conversation is all about storytelling; telling your brand story in an emotional way that causes people to actually want to do something. We’re very focused on engaging our audience in a consistent way that makes them choose us and, ultimately, recommend us.

Words to live by: People want to eat the sausage—they don’t want to know how it’s made. It’s about working to deliver results and making an impact versus explaining the unnecessary details of how you got there. It’s up to us to master our craft. It’s messy making the sausage, yes, but people don’t want to hear about that.

Good read: You’re in Charge, Now What? by Thomas J. Neff. It talks about the first 100 days on the job, and we all have to get through the first 100 days. It’s a great reference tool for setting the strategic platform for how to approach a new business role.

Good advice: Work outside of your comfort zone. If you have a new assignment and it seems a little scary to you, that’s great—that’s the assignment for you. Accept it with enthusiasm, ask for guidance, and do it. And don’t just be focused on your title; make sure to take a job where you can own something end-to-end.

Meet the rest of the 2014 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees and read their inspirational stories.

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